Coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal defended Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), a subsidiary of Central maharatna PSU- Coal India Ltd, over non-payment of Rs 1306 crore penalty imposed by the Odisha government on grounds of alleged illegal coal mining.
" So far as my knowledge is concerned, MCL did not commit any mistake. It had applied for enhancing production at a certain mine and then kept raising the production. They did not raise coal from a new mine,” Jaiswal said at a press meet after visiting some mines of MCL in Talcher district.
A couple of months back, the state government had asked MCL to pay a fine of Rs 1,306 crore for mining coal without environment clearance. It said that the MCL, had resorted to illegal extraction of coal in the absence of statutory clearances and therefore, is liable of paying the penalty amount to the state government. The state government order followed a directive sent last year by Deputy Director of Mines (DDM) of Sambalpur mining circle to MCL, in which he had asked the coal producer to deposit Rs 862.58 crore. Later, the penalty amount was revised according to the recommendation by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.
MCL has been denying payment of dues saying that the the fine has been imposed as per the provisions mentioned in the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act-1957, which is not applicable to coal miners.
Talking about coal scams in the state, the Union minister said he was aware of the irregularities in coal allocation inside the state and said the state government can order an inquiry into this. He also justified the coal block allocations between 2006 and 2009, that has sparked controversy recently, landing the Centre in a tight spot.
" All the governments have followed similar procedures of allocating coal block in last 15 years and so did the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government”, he said.
The CAG has recently pointed out that the national exchequer could have added around Rs 100,000 crore in revenue, had the coal been supplied to power producers through e-auction process as done by CIL.
Jaiswal today said CIL cannot alone manage so much coal trading in the country and for this reason, coal blocks were allotted to private companies to develop the and use the mined coal in producing power.